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River roots

Learn area's history at new River Heritage Day
by: Vern Uyetake, A model of how locks work will be on display during River Heritage Day on June 23 at Willamette Park.

Whether you've lived in West Linn for just a few months or all your life, you are sure to learn something about the city's roots at the first River Heritage Day.

The event is a new twist on the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation's Lock Fest, which was canceled two years ago when the Army Corps of Engineers closed the locks on the Willamette River.

Lock Fest started in 2004 and took place at the small park next to the locks. Boats of all sizes could experience a trip through the locks.

"This year, the setting is different," Sandy Carter, the foundation's executive director, said, "but will have many of the same ingredients as Lock Fest."

River Heritage Day is June 23 at Willamette Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature a variety of booths, vendors, food and lots of history.

"If you don't know where you came from, how do you know who you are?" asked Carter.

She said the histories of the Willamette and Tualatin rivers are an integral part to the history of West Linn and surrounding cities.

"We have such a rich history and many people in the community are not aware of it," she said. "We have these deep roots."

With a $750 grant from the city of West Linn and another $500 from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the foundation is constructing an outdoor learning area for the Rose Festival-sanctioned event.

The Antique and Classic Boat Society will have several classic Chris-Craft boats on display on trailers. And Wilsonville Concrete Products will have a barge, crane and tug parked off the dock for people to see.

"People can see the size and scale of the river business," Carter said.

There will also be a self-guided walking tour and displays about the locks, the mill, hydropower generation and the Bosky Dell.

Kids and adults alike will be fascinated by a working model of the locks.

The West Linn Centennial Committee will have a booth to scan old photos, the Oregon Department of Transportation will have information on the arch bridge and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon will have a booth with information about the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition and its draft feasibility study. A clearinghouse booth will house a variety of brochures on topics ranging from state parks to preservation.

"There will be a lot of educational stuff people can pick up," Carter said.

There will also be an organized children's activity, and the West Linn Lions will be grilling up burgers.

A movie tent, complete with popcorn, will show a series of short films representing the history of the area, including a clip from a 1962 episode of "Route 66" that features a section of West Linn and Oregon City.

From noon to 1 p.m., Jerry Herrmann will present "Journey Through Time on the River of Life." He will return at 1:30 p.m. to perform along with the Tone Setters, strolling the grounds and singing old-time songs about rivers in barbershop harmony.

Carter said people will also be dressed in period costumes throughout the day.

"We really want to keep the historical aspect of West Linn in people's view - just to let people know the locks are there and how wonderful they are," Carter said. "It's just a fun, low-key history fest focused on West Linn and its relationship to the rivers."

Like Lock Fest, River Heritage Day is a free city-sponsored, noncommercial event focused on education and advocacy. It is sponsored by the city of West Linn, Spirit Mountain Foundation and West Linn Lions Club. For more information, contact the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation's planning committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-650-9570.